WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement after his third vote against cloture related to consideration of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).
“I believe that it’s important for Congress to pass Trade Promotion Authority. Five hundred and thirty-five members of Congress cannot negotiate with our trading partners and enter into an agreement, so we have to delegate that authority. But as I have said repeatedly, including Wednesday from the floor of the U.S. Senate, let’s make sure we get this right. International trade can be good for the United States, but only if it levels the playing field for all workers. We need to try to make this the strongest bill possible because we don’t get many opportunities to take up such legislation.
“We have made some significant progress and I sincerely believe that Senators Wyden and Hatch have produced a bill that modernizes and improves how the Administration negotiates agreements. Clearly, the Trade Promotion Authority being considered by Congress is not the same delegation of Congressional authority that led to older trade agreements like NAFTA. We didn’t make the same mistakes this time. Human rights, good governance, labor and the environment are all principal negotiating objectives in TPA. But the legislation before us represents the most significant policy the Congress has considered on trade for more than a decade. It will impact our economy and our labor force for a generation to come. Its importance cannot be understated. As such, this bill—and both its supporters and opponents—deserve a much more robust and open debate, and an opportunity to further strengthen the legislation. Together, Democrats and Republicans have filed over 200 amendments, and at the time of the cloture vote, it was unclear whether and how many of these amendments would be considered. Because of the severely abbreviated consideration that this bill received, I could not support the motion to end debate. We’re just not there yet.”